Bola Tinubu, the 16th president of Nigeria, has “absolute” faith in God.
“I know that his hand shall provide the needed moral strength and clarity of purpose,” he stated during his inaugural speech on Monday, “when we seem to have reached the limits of our human capacity.”
But what if the limits are self-imposed?
Tinubu, who infuriated many Christians by nominating a fellow Muslim as his running mate, became the West African nation’s first president to enter office with less than 50 percent of the vote. Despite record voter registration, only 29 percent of the electorate cast ballots. Tinubu, affiliated with the incumbent APC party, won 37 percent.
Atiku Abubakar of the opposition PDP party captured 29 percent, while the third-party surge of Peter Obi, a Christian, fell short with 25 percent. Neither candidate attended the inauguration, as they contest in court the validity of the electoral results.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella grouping of the five main denominations, vociferously protested the Muslim-Muslim ticket, urging a vote for any other candidates. But with the nation roughly divided 50-50 along religious lines, results show that no candidate was able to marshal a conclusive sectarian advantage.
In breaking political protocol, Tinubu, two-term governor of the southwestern megacity of Lagos, stated the choice of Kashim Shettima as vice president simply reflected his personal competency. But most analysts linked it instead with the candidate’s northern origin.
Everyone jostled over this mostly Muslim bloc of votes.
Competition led the PDP to break regional political protocol in nominating a Fulani from the north, when outgoing APC president Muhammadu Buhari, also Fulani, per tradition should have been succeeded by a southerner. Obi also picked a northern Muslim as his presidential partner.
Tinubu, who helped secure Buhari’s victory eight years earlier, had long been acclaimed as a powerful political boss and kingmaker for others. Running for office himself, he declared at the start of his campaign: It’s my turn.
Yet despite alleged fraud and campaigns of voter intimidation, Tinubu lost APC electoral strongholds in the north to Abubakar, and his home city of Lagos to Obi. He enters office amid deep political division, worrying economic conditions, and a host of Christian leaders deeply wounded by his campaign.
“What he did shows no regard for Christians,” said Esther Ayandokun, rector of the Baptist College of Theology in the southern state of Oyo. “We are not happy, but there is nothing we can do.” She urged prayer, and…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on June 1, 2023. Please click here to read the full text.